As an artist, I am interested in the intersection of nature and culture, including the way that we humans represent plant-life in illustrations, advertisements and logos. The many representations of trees range from the most simple geometric shapes to detailed illustrations and photographs, sometimes referencing existing or even imaginary species. As we are increasingly separated from direct contact with wilderness, these representations can sometimes stand in for the real thing.
I have selected eight images of trees from the ads printed in New York and New Jersey yellow pages phone books (see also Field Studies). This found imagery ranges greatly in graphic style as well as species of tree, from a cartoon palm tree, for example, to a detailed color photo of an evergreen. I enlarged these images and digitally printed them onto plywood. They are sealed with polyurethane, bolted to signposts, and anchored in the ground with cement. They range from 4 to 7 feet tall and 3 to 4 feet in width.
Although these sculptures look like trees, function like trees (providing shade and aesthetic appeal), and are made of trees, they are not trees. In fact, the use of chemically-treated wood for a sculpture of a tree is clearly ironic. These sculptures are ideal for a park or lawn area, but I believe they would also work well in a forest, or even an urban area devoid of plants. As Robert Smithson wrote, “The authentic artist cannot turn his back on the contradictions that inhabit our landscape.”